The Pritzker Consortium brings together scientists and clinicians from a wide range of disciplines to confront the challenging problems of identifying the pathophysiology of psychiatric diseases. It includes neuroscientists, psychiatrists, geneticists, statisticians and informaticians. It is composed of scientists at all stages of their careers including senior professors, junior professors, research investigators, postdoctoral and doctoral students, and technical staff.
The Consortium relies on a team approach to carry out highly integrated, multi-site studies that would be impossible to perform in any single scientific laboratory. The fundamental tenet is that psychiatric disorders are diseases of neural circuits and that understanding them requires the integration of genetics, cell and molecular biology, functional neuroanatomy and behavioral and clinical analyses, an approach termed “Circuit Neuromics” by one of the Consortium Site Directors.
The starting point is human clinical samples from living, well-diagnosed psychiatric patients and controls, as well as a brain bank with a unique collection of well-characterized postmortem brains and blood from patients who had suffered from one of these psychiatric disorders and from controls. These resources allow the Consortium to conduct genetic, genomic and proteomics analyses of brain and blood, including sequencing, gene expression profiling, genome-wide methylation, and miRNA analyses. This is coupled to the use of sophisticated neuroanatomical techniques in human brain, including in situ hybridization, 3-D reconstruction of well-defined brain regions and laser capture microdissection for analysis of gene expression and epigenetic modifications.
Discoveries made in humans are then pursued in depth in animal and in vitro models to determine their functional significance. These new basic findings are then extrapolated back to individuals with psychiatric disorders to characterize biomarkers of disease and identify molecular targets for drug development.